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Linkin Park Singer Chester Bennington Found Dead in Apparent Suicide

Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington was found dead on Thursday morning, police confirmed to Variety. He was 41.

At about 9 a.m. on Thursday, police responded to a call of a dead body in a Palos Verdes Estates (a suburb south of Los Angeles) home, the location of Bennington’s private residence, law enforcement said in a statement. He appeared to have died by suicide from hanging, TMZ reports.

The case is under investigation by the L.A. County Coroner’s Office. Variety has reached out to his reps for more details. Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda tweeted on Thursday afternoon, “Shocked and heartbroken, but it’s true. An official statement will come out as soon as we have one.”

The band most recently released album “One More Light” earlier this year, as well as a music video for “Talking to Myself” earlier Thursday morning. Bennington has struggled with alcohol and drug problems throughout his life.

Thursday was also the birthday of Chris Cornell, Soundgarden singer and a good friend of Bennington’s who died by suicide in May. Bennington wrote a tribute to Cornell, and sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at Cornell’s funeral in May.

Bennington is survived by his wife and six children.

A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Bennington had a troubled childhood marred by sexual abuse from an older male friend and drug abuse; his parents divorced when he was 11.

He began performing in his teens and in the late 1990s was introduced to several members of the band that would become Linkin Park by Zombie Music Publishing executive Jeff Blue. The union was successful although the group struggled to find a record deal. Blue signed them after he joined Warner Bros. Records as an A&R executive, and they released their debut album, “Hybrid Theory,” in 2000, and the group went on to become one of the most successful rock bands of the decade.

“Hybrid Theory” was certified diamond (10 million copies) by the RIAA, and the ensuing albums “Meteora” (2003) and “Minutes to Midnight” (2007) reached multiplatinum sales as well. In 2004 the group recorded a “mashup EP” called “Collision Course” with rapper Jay Z.

The group’s combination of heavy riffs, Bennington’s alternately melodic and gutteral vocals, and Mike Shinoda’s rapping led them to be lumped in with the “nu-metal” of bands like Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach, but the group railed against the term and branched out musically via solo efforts, remix albums and more experimental work on albums like the Rick Rubin-produced “A Thousand Suns.” The group continued to defy expectations in the coming years, getting arguably heavier than ever with “The Hunting Party” in 2014 and following it with a pop-oriented album, “One More Light,” earlier this year. Fan and media reaction to the group’s most recent change of direction was often hostile.

Over the years Bennington also served as lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots after original vocalist Scott Weiland left for the final time in 2013, and worked with a side project called Dead by Sunrise, which released one album, “Out of Ashes,” in 2009.

During a Linkin Park acoustic performance at Spotify’s New York offices in May, just days before Cornell’s death, Bennington was animated and very funny, at one point responding to a question about how the group’s music has changed over the years by saying, “When people ask me ‘How come you don’t write about teen angst anymore?,’ I say ‘I’m 41 years old!'”

In his tribute letter to Chris Cornell, Bennington wrote in part: “You have inspired me in many ways you could never have known. Your talent was pure and unrivalled. Your voice was joy and pain, anger and forgiveness, love and heartache all wrapped up into one. I suppose that’s what we all are. You helped me understand that.”

 

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